Leh cloudburst kills 59

At least 59 people were killed and many more still missing in a series of cloudbursts that hit parts of this town during Thursday night.

Sources in the Defence Ministry said the toll might go up over 100.

According to information available, a series of cloudbursts took place in this Himalayan town, located 424 kilometres from Srinagar and mainly hit the Choglumsar area, 13 km from Leh, where more than 50 bodies have been recovered so far, officials said.

According to the report, the injured shifted to Army hospital as 6000 jawans called in for rescue operation.

CRPF, BSNL and SBI buildings badly damaged in the cloudburst, which triggered flood in Leh. Several people feared trapped inside the debris, sources added.

Major roads to Leh have been cut off and the Kargil-Leh highway has been partially damaged. The runway of the civil airport has been cut off with the rest of the country as it was damaged at various places. Several Army and security forces buildings are also affected. All flights have been suspended.

IAF is conducting aerial sorties to assess damage while helicopters are on standby in Kargil, Thoise and Chandigarh.

“We are expecting more bodies and the actual damage will be known only after the water receded,” a senior official said.

Other areas along the Sindhu River were yet to be accessed and it was feared the human loss would be heavy. Many buildings were washed away in the heavy downpour, the officials said.

Meanwhile, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, while expressing grief over the tragedy, has directed the civil and police administration to undertake relief and rescue work at war footing.

The old Leh city is severely hit by the cloudburst.

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